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Russia to Keep Nord Stream Pipeline Out of Operation

natural gas, Russia

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Kremlin gas giant Gazprom confirmed that the Nord Stream pipeline, which connects Russia to Germany via the Baltic Sea, will remain out of operation until further notice, increasing pressure from European governments to avoid blackouts during the winter.

“Until it is repaired, gas transportation via Nord Stream is completely stopped,” Gazprom notified in a statement on Friday.

Gazprom claimed to have found a technical fault during the maintenance of the pipeline, so it announced that the line would remain closed without giving any date as to when the problem could be fixed. The channel was supposed to be back in operation on Saturday after the gas company announced a three-day maintenance stop.

Since June, the Nord Stream pipeline has operated at 20% of capacity because Russia began slowing the gas flow in response to U.S. and European support for Ukraine in the war that is now more than 6 months old.

A complete shutdown of the Nord Stream pipeline could lead European Union governments to declare rationing during the winter. At the same time, Moscow is playing its most precious card to pressure Europe to withdraw its support of Ukraine. If Putin does not succeed, he will not have much more maneuvering left on the international chessboard.

Before the war, Russia and Germany planned to start a second gas pipeline, to be known as Nord Stream 2. However, after the invasion of Ukraine, Berlin canceled the joint project.

As a measure to circumvent the sanctions, Russia decreed that gas sales to Europe could only be sealed in rubles, in an act to avoid the devaluation of the local currency heavily penalized by the restrictions imposed by the West. At least four major gas buyers ended up paying for the precious hydrocarbon in rubles and, according to Gazprom, at least 10 buyers have set up ruble accounts with Russian banks.

One of the first victims of a possible energy crisis in Europe would be the manufacturing sector, especially sectors such as steel, glass manufacturing, and fertilizers. Some companies are withdrawing part of their operations from Europe in anticipation of possible future outages.

Despite pressure from Russia, as demand in the European economy slows in response to inflation, gas prices have declined in recent weeks.

Panic has also been minimized by the announcement that the European Union has managed to store up to two months’ worth of gas reserves to meet its energy demand.

The uncertainty generated by the supply of Russian gas has meant a business opportunity for American, Norwegian, Spanish, and Portuguese gas companies.

In the absence of a pipeline across the Atlantic, natural gas imported from the United States has to go through a process where it is liquefied and injected into specialized cargo ships that must cross the Atlantic and then be transported to regasification plants to be used as an energy input.

After the beginning of the war in Ukraine, imports of liquefied natural gas have skyrocketed, as the shortage of Russian hydrocarbon has made it economically profitable to import gas by sea.

Despite the gas reserves that the European Union has managed to accumulate, it will still have to make major concessions to avoid blackouts. Germany, one of the countries most affected by the gas cuts, still has to reduce its demand by 20 % and gather additional reserves. The rest of Europe must reduce its consumption by up to 15 % before winter sets in.


Economist, writer and liberal. With a focus on finance, the war on drugs, history, and geopolitics // Economista, escritor y liberal. Con enfoque en finanzas, guerra contra las drogas, historia y geopolítica

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